Couple claims landline and cell problems persist, fear medical e - WSMV Channel 4

Couple claims landline and cell problems persist, fear medical emergency

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DUCK RIVER, TN (WSMV) -

A Hickman County couple claims they're in a frightening predicament. They pay the bills to keep a service reliably working because it could be a matter of saving a life. After making calls, they say the problems still come around.

"When we married, we built this house," said Ann Hooten. "We'll soon be married 47 years."

Ann and Johnny Hooten's home in rural Hickman County has become a place for visits with grandchildren.

"Anything worth while, you've got to work at it," smiled Ann Hooten, sitting on a couch next to her husband.

"We've stayed friends, hadn't we?" she asked him with a smile. "Most of the time, anyway."

As much as the Hootens love their Hoover Road home's sights and sounds, they said an overwhelming problem's come up.

"For us, it's a life and death issue," she said.

Ann Hooten said cell service has never been good out in the country. She said the bigger issue is their landline through AT&T doesn't come through about once a month, usually during the rain. Her husband needs the landline for his medical alert necklace.

"He doesn't have use of his right side," she said. "He's confined to a wheelchair, and he can only answer you 'yes or no.' He's been sick nearly 11 years. I do not like leaving him, but we're in a position where I need to continue to work. One day he was here by himself seven or eight hours, and it was a gamble just to make sure nothing happened."

Ann Hooten said her husband has a rare form of multiple sclerosis, and she calls and checks on him at set times during her work day. She said if the landline's down, she can't reach him at all.

"Until I get home, I'm a nervous wreck," she said.

Ann Hooten said regularly losing service has been an issue for at least two years. She made two complaints to the FCC last year, telling them service had been out for a week in one of the complaints. The complaints detail her situation, but she said fixes were only temporary.

"That's what's frustrating," she said. "Obviously, the phone is critical. That's all I want is to have a phone service all the time."

A rep for AT&T told News 4 storm damage took out service to the Hootens' area during the early part of the week, but it was restored and is currently working. The rep did not comment on the couple's long-term claims of problems and their complaints to the FCC.

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